Saturday, January 31, 2009

More Love for Clare & The Reasons...on WNYC

Earlier in the week, Brian Lehrer had Neil deGrasse Tyson on for a discussion of Pluto, our dubious celestial neighbor. The segment ended with Clare's song "Pluto". Brian had Clare on yesterday to discuss the song, however briefly.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

3 Random Beatles Moments in 10 Minutes: A True Story from Tonight

12:05AM: A keyboardist (playing a saloon-type piano) plays "In My Life", on the Union Square Q-line platform.

12:12AM: A hobo plays "Here Comes The Sun" on the Q train.

12:15AM: Listening to this week's This American Life on my Ipod, I listen to the story of a comedy duo's big break on the Ed Sullivan Show, on the same night the Beatles made their American debut.

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Sunday, January 25, 2009

DeVotchKa; Clare & The Reasons @ Webster Hall

DeVotchKa; Clare & The Reasons
@ Webster Hall
New York, NY - January 24, 2009

DeVotchKa returned to New York with their continued excellence at dense hybrids of Russo-Mexican rock n'roll and all points in between. A curious moment: I noticed a scantily clad woman rehearsing what appeared to be ballet in a window over stage left. I assumed it was a dancer for the later club portion of the night at Webster. Alas, it was a performer for DeVotchKa, a mix of burlesque and Cirque Du Soliel. Nebbish nellie that I am, I was nervous and found it difficult to look for fear she'd fall from her climbing and acrobatics up two long sheets in the middle of the stage. The highlight was Nick on the theremin while she quivered the curtains. Just another madcap adventure in the life of DeVotchKa.

Clare Muldaur and the Reasons fought through some terrible feedback problems and a pretty dull, self-involved crowd to showcase why they are New York City's premium jewel in its pop crown. If they were tripped up by anything it was the lack of Reasons - I am pretty sure there were more than 5 people at the gig at Joe's Pub last June. Nevertheless, it is pretty much confirmed that Clare & The Reasons are the best red-color dress code band since the White Stripes.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

At Last


Comp Crazy

Two potentially mind-blowing charity compilations will be coming out soon, chock full of new material and covers by some pretty snazzy artists. Stereogum has been covering these two developing mega-comps and here's the basic plot so far:

Dark Was The Night is an AIDS-charity comp curated by Bryce and Aaron Dessner of The National (who contribute an amazing cut, "So Far Around The Bend"). A collaboration track between David Byrne and Dirty Projectors has already been released.

The track listing:


1. "Knotty Pine" - Dirty Projectors + David Byrne
2. "Cello Song" - The Books featuring Jose Gonzalez
3. "Train Song" - Feist and Ben Gibbard
4. "Brackett, WI" - Bon Iver
5. "Deep Blue Sea" - Grizzly Bear
6. "So Far Around The Bend" - The National
7. "Tightrope" - Yeasayer
8. "Feeling Good" - My Brightest Diamond
9. "Dark Was The Night" - Kronos Quartet
10. "I Was Young When I Left Home" - Antony with Bryce Dessner
11. "Big Red Machine" - Justin Vernon + Aaron Dessner
12. "Sleepless" - The Decemberists
13. "Stolen Houses (Die)" - Iron & Wine
14. "Service Bell" - Grizzly Bear + Feist
15. "You Are The Blood" - Sufjan Stevens


1. "Well-Alright" - Spoon
2. "Lenin" - Arcade Fire
3. "Mimizan" - Beirut
4. "El Caporal" - My Morning Jacket
5. "Inspiration Information" - Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings
6. "With A Girl Like You" - Dave Sitek
7. "Blood Pt. 2" - Buck 65 Remix (featuring Sufjan Stevens and Serengeti)
8. "Hey, Snow White" - The New Pornographers
9. "Gentle Hour" - Yo La Tengo
10. "Amazing Grace" - Cat Power
11. "Happiness" - Riceboy Sleeps
12. "Another Saturday" - Stuart Murdoch
13. "The Giant Of Illinois" - Andrew Bird
14. "Lua" - Conor Oberst with Gillian Welch
15. "When The Road Runs Out" - Blonde Redhead & Devastations
16. "Love Vs. Porn" - Kevin Drew

Do you see Gillian Welch in there?! Gillian Welch!

Meanwhile, War Child, a non-profit designed to help children who are victims of conflict, will be boosted by a compilation record, Heroes featuring some bands who are finally putting on record the kinds of covers we would have expected. Today, Stereogum posted Lilly Allen's cover of the Clash, and Hot Chip's cover of Joy Division. Here's the rest of the hit list:

01. Beck (Bob Dylan: "Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat")
02. The Kooks (The Kinks: "Victoria")
03. The Hold Steady (Bruce Springsteen: "Atlantic City")
04. Hot Chip (Joy Division: "Transmission")
05. Lily Allen (The Clash: "Straight To Hell")
06. Yeah Yeah Yeahs (The Ramones: "Sheena Is A Punk Rocker")
07. Franz Ferdinand (Blondie: "Call Me")
08. Duffy (Paul McCartney: "Live And Let Die")
09. Estelle (Stevie Wonder: "Superstition")
10. Rufus Wainwright (Brian Wilson: "Wonderful/ Song For Children")
11. Scissor Sisters (Roxy Music: "Do The Strand")
12. Peaches (Iggy Pop and The Stooges: "Search And Destroy")
13. Adam Cohen (Leonard Cohen: "Take This Waltz")
14. Elbow (U2: "Running To Stand Still")
15. The Like (Elvis Costello: "You Belong To Me")
16. TV On The Radio (David Bowie: "Heroes")

At long last - the Hold Steady do Springsteen, TVOTR do Bowie, and there are more excuses to look at photos of Lilly Allen.

The records will be officially released on consecutive days: Heroes on 2/16, and Dark Was the Night on 2/17.

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Monday, January 19, 2009

Obama Inaugural Concert Highlights: U2, Springsteen, Pete Seeger


Springsteen with the guy who gave me a piece of corn in Beacon, NY last Summer:

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Sunday, January 18, 2009

More Airborne Toxic Event: Live on Letterman

Dave, Paul, and the crowd seem a little extra taken than usual with the musical guests, but considering this rendition of "Sometime Around Midnight", perhaps it's not surprising:

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Amazing Rocket Ride of the Airborne Toxic Event

One year after playing Pianos, the Airborne Toxic Event have sold out their Wednesday, March 11th show at the Bowery. They've added a new Sunday, March 8th date. They'll be on Letterman this Friday.

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Sunday, January 11, 2009

John Doe & Exene Cervenka; Justin Townes Earle @ MHOW

John Doe & Exene Cervenka; Justin Townes Earle
@ Music Hall of Williamsburg
Brooklyn, NY - January 10, 2009

In an "acoustic" setting (a legitimate description save for John using an electric guitar for decent portions of the set), John Doe and Exene Cervenka played an array of X, Knitters, and classic folk and country songs. They showed off some new ones, most of whose eventual recorded destination was left ambiguous but those described as belonging to the first person plural presumably mean a potential new Knitters or maybe even...gulp...X record? The setting allowed for a dissection of X and what made them so important - they were punk because they weren't like any other punk band - they were lyrically dense and ambitious, skillfully musical and proficient, and they culled their work from multiple sources, never content to be boxed in. The fact that time and again they come back to country and folk sounds leads one to conclude that X were a country band trapped in a punk band's body.

Justin Townes Earle, like his old man Steve Earle, moved to Brooklyn, upping the borough's real old-timey country quotient by a considerable margin. The Crown Heights based (yes, that's right, a country rocker from the Earle family living in Crown Heights) guitarist, along with his buddy Cory, took the audience through a winding road trip of the South, from the Appalachians to the small towns to the Boxcar trains (a big nod to Woody Guthrie was needed and made). Cory played both banjo and mandolin, not making it easy to figure out the answer to the age old question: which of these two instruments is the best instrument of all time? It was a ridiculously good set.

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Thursday, January 08, 2009

Meet Ruby Friedman

Back in September, Rock n Roll TV introduced us to Ruby Friedman, though yours truly didn't see this till video till last week. Well late is better than never. Listen to more of her stuff - and her amazing voice - on her MySpace page.

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Meet Ezra Furman & The Harpoons

Listen to "Take Off Your Sunglasses" here and here and defy the ability to not relive all those great feelings of country-rock as done by Dylan, Neil, Petty, and later on by Ryan Adams.

Excellent stuff.


Even More Ladyhawke

"My Delerium" may be the best song on a very consistent album:

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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Ladyhawk & Ladyhawke

Why does this happen? Why does there always seem to be a case where similarly named acts pop up at the same time? Of course, in the past, those stemmed from the explicable forms of imitation (use of "black" or all the animal names of the last few years) and the inexplicable (the "republic" craze of a few years ago). And sometimes there's just an odd cowinkydink (the Duke Spirit and the Delta Spirit). Here's another one:

Just weeks, maybe days, after discovering Ladyhawke - the disco-pop sensation with quite a personal story - I learned of Ladyhawk via Carrie Brownstein's recommendation on the NPR All Songs Considered Year in Review show. Pretty darn different sounding.

Personally, for my tastes these days, I'm going with the gal with the "e" on the end but the e-less Ladyhawk is nothing to necessarily sniff at. Below is the otherwise-named Pip Brown's video for her insatiably catchy "Paris is Burning":

She'll be on tour in Britain with the Ting Tings next month. What a hoppin' set of shows those will be.

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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Remembering Ron Asheton

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Monday, January 05, 2009

Senator Al Franken?

In what is possibly the final part of the addendum of the 2008 Election, if the courts process affirms the presumed final tally, Al Franken - an original Not Ready for Prime Time Player on Saturday Night Live, the comedian who rejoined the show during one of its better eras, the political satirist that sought to be a more reasonable answer on the liberal side to the right wing machine, the guy who made a noble effort at a liberal talk radio network (he succeeded, as did Rachel Maddow, the rest failed), will be the elected Senator from the state of Minnesota, a New York Jew who defeated an incumbent Brooklyn Jew by the name of Norm Coleman - a man who lost to professional wrestler Jesse "The Body" Ventura for Governor 8 years ago, and who won the Senate seat in 2002 after his opponent - the amazing human being known as Paul Wellstone - died in a plane crash and the right wing exploited the fervor of the memorial service to gather opposition to replacement candidate Fritz Mondale.

But like I said, this guy is quite possibly (and now probably) the next Senator from Minnesota:

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Sunday, January 04, 2009

I Knew This Would Happen...Damn You Parts & Labor!

The moment I decide to write critically on this hunk-o-junk, one of the bands I take a mild swipe at turns out to have a killer song. Listen to "Nowheres Nigh", on Parts & Labor's MySpace page, yet another in an increasing number of fist-pumping anthems coming out lately.

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